PALO ALTO, Calif.-Stanford FCU wins the hearts of its "best" members with a trove of custom-built small business products and services-and a vibrant consumer mobile channel that business members seem to love, according to Jim Phillips, SVP and CIO at the $1.4-billion organization here.

"All credit unions need to remain relevant by expanding tools for businesses, even if the business is a DBA," Phillips suggested. "You don't want to scare off your best members-they'll go to Chase or BofA with their business account and take their personal account with it."

Business members, representing 10% of the credit union's total membership, particularly enjoy the ability to manage their business accounts online alongside their personal accounts, he said. "We built much of the online banking portal for our business members, and we don't limit the view of their accounts."

About 350 small business members, surprisingly, have adapted the Stanford Federal consumer mobile channel to suit their business needs, said Phillips. That's more than 10% of the entire mobile membership.

The "popular" mobile platform allows members to import all their personal and business relationships into personal financial management software and set up a business and personal view, Phillips continued. "Small business owners really like to identify business payments and income in a way that's separate from personal."

Stanford FCU is not currently planning a business-specific mobile app but acknowledges "there's a demand for mobile features for business members," said Phillips.

Business members can transfer funds internally or externally from a mobile device or online, he said. External transfers have been offered for more than seven years and one year via mobile, currently resulting in more than 5,000 external transfers per month.

Stanford FCU's investment years ago in building the mobile solution was "significant, and usage was nominal," said Phillips. "We knew there might be a longer time for recovery of the investment. But members told us they expect these services, and other institutions are actively trying to recruit our members." Today, "we're seeing double-digit usage in mobile."


A Lean Staff

The CU has gone out of the way to make it easy for member merchants to deposit and send checks electronically for the past two years, using the web-based VSoft Merchant Capture solution. "The product integrates well with our online banking, and we've given some of our business members high-volume scanners," he said. About 100 members are using merchant capture, which also helps maintain a lean, 40-employee branch staff.

Business members can pay bills; send invoices; transfer money; download Quicken and QuickBooks extracts; set up online payrolls; process credit card transactions wirelessly; analyze website statistics; and store data at the Stanford FCU site, Phillips added.

The tools are part of the larger member business program, which is led by a staff of "savvy" commercial and business account experts, Phillips explained.

"We feel strongly that our technology tools present a great flexibility for our business members," said Brian Thornton, SVP, CLO at the CU. Stanford FCU is growing business accounts by 15% to 20% year over year, he said.

The Stanford Federal custom-made business banking tools aren't threatened by the credit union's current core system conversion to Open Solutions DNA, he said. "We're trying to keep a lot of the tools our members like while moving to a system that's more supportable and is used by our peers. We want to do less of the software business and more banking."

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